A Heart Surgeon and an Internet Marketer: Interview with Dr. Mani

I am very inspired by the work of my friend Dr. Mani Sivasubramaniam. Dr. Mani is a heart surgeon. Dr. Mani is also an Internet Marketer. While I have not seen any other heart surgeon who is an Internet Marketer, Dr. Mani is more special than that. He sets aside part of the profits from his Internet Marketing initiatives to help young children with congenital heart diseases. He has already performed hundreds of free heart surgeries on young children – giving them a new life.

During these holidays, Dr. Mani is giving away a ton of his work for a song AND setting aside ALL the profits from this initiative to help children with congenital heart diseases. You can take a look at what’s on offer here:

Buy a Business Booster Pack to save a child’s life

RS: How do you find the time and energy to manage two careers – as heart surgeon and Internet marketer?

MS: One word. Passion.

I LOVE heart surgery. My sub-specialty of pediatric cardiac surgery is technically challenging, fascinating and interesting. It can also become all-consuming – so I have struck a delicate balance between it, and the work I do online which is just as essential… because it funds the operations that I perform on children from under-privileged families.

Each heart operation costs around $2,500 to $3,000. Most of the families I work with have monthly incomes of $150 or less. Without the fund raising efforts I put in, this program wouldn’t be feasible anyway.

So my work on the business is fired by my passion to perform heart surgery and the desire to help heart kids. Finding the time is a function of setting priorities, being efficient and following a disciplined routine.

RS: So a share of the profits from your business goes towards funding these surgeries?

That’s correct. Typically, 25% of what my online information business earns will be ear-marked for the Dr.Mani Children Heart Foundation I set up in 2003.

There are some special promotions I do from time to time, like the “Business Booster” sale – http://www.CHDinfo.com/2010/ – that runs until December 31st, where 100% of the profits will be donated to the Foundation and go to sponsoring a child’s treatment.

RS: I know you don’t get paid for performing these operations. If you don’t make any money from this, why do you do it?

MS: Well, people do things for different kinds of benefits – or pleasures. Money based compensation is just one of them. It’s the easiest to understand and relate to, because it is so common.

Facing and overcoming challenges that seem impossible is another. When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the famous mountaineer George Mallory replied, “Because it’s there!” I’m sure, Raj, that you deeply appreciate that feeling, because so much of what you do, and have done, is challenging and therefore fun!

Deep satisfaction that comes from helping people is another motivator. The families we reach out to are desperately poor. Parents have a dreadful choice, with no obvious solution to their problem. Having seen and experienced the reality these families face, and being in a position to try and do something about it makes it a challenge I enjoy trying to overcome.

That is why I do it.

RS: Why did you choose this model to help poor children receive heart operations?

MS: To be perfectly honest, it was pure luck!

I like testing things in a small way to see if they work. So in 1999 I decided to try and fund one heart operation through a combination of donations and a portion of my online business’ profit. To my surprise and delight, the experiment was successful.

Then I scaled it and improved it. There are times when things get scary and uncertain. Like earlier this year, when our primary payment processor changed policies that prevented our Foundation from accepting donations online. We’re still working on a permanent solution for this, but until then came up with the idea of running a special sale to raise money for surgeries – http://www.CHDinfo.com/2010/

Also, now and then, doubts arise in my mind about whether this can scale to the size I hope to reach. But one definition of courage is to feel the fear, and do it anyway.

RS: What if your model had failed? Would you have given up?

MS: No. Many people have asked me this question before. I don’t believe I would have given up. Every failure teaches you something. The lesson would have been that what I’m doing doesn’t work – and so I must try something different.

There are many other approaches I could have taken (and still might). I could seek corporate donations. I could focus completely on getting donations from individuals. Or maybe gone off the Web, into direct mail or other event-based fund raising models.

Whatever works would be improved. The thing is you always look for SOLUTIONS. And keep looking until you find one that works.

RS: If there was ONE thing that triggered you to take this path, what is it?

MS: It’s hard to say, Raj. Maybe it’s a combination of several things.

I was excited at the power and reach of the World Wide Web at a very early stage in its evolution, way back in 1995 – and so could tap into it.

I discovered, quite by accident, that I had a passion for writing, which led to a successful career as an Internet infopreneur. And as Assistant Professor in a large University hospital, I interacted with so many families who were laboring under the crushing burden of caring for a child with congenital heart defects without means of treating it.

The coincidence of these things has led to a process which has sponsored 72 heart operations until now, with many more to follow. A lot depends on the support we continue to receive from caring and generous supporters like you and your readers!

RS: If someone else (some other doctor) wants to get on this journey, what is your advice for them? Do’s and don’ts.. lessons learned?

MS: Last year, I wrote and published a book called “47 Hearts – How To Live the Life of Your Dreams, With Passion, Purpose and Persistence“. You reviewed it, Raj, and were very gracious in your feedback.

In it, I shared snippets of advice based on my journey, so that anyone wishing to pursue a dream that’s as seemingly impossible will have a set of guidelines and a sort of roadmap to follow their passion.

The ebook version can be downloaded for free, from www.47Hearts.com – and the print book is available on Amazon.com

In a nutshell, I’d tell anyone looking to find fulfillment and joy in following a purposeful calling this – listen to your heart and tap into your passion. It will never lead you wrong, and will sustain you through any hardships and challenges – until you win!